Who Is Matthew Perry?
Born in 1969, actor Matthew Perry grew up in Ottawa and Los Angeles. Following an early career marked by bit parts and failed pilots, Perry rocketed to fame in the mid-1990s with the role of Chandler Bing on the smash sitcom Friends. He went on to star in films like Fools Rush In and The Whole Nine Yards, though the actor also struggled with addiction for many years. Perry later attempted to replicate his sitcom success with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Go On, eventually finding a ratings hit with a revival of The Odd Couple.
Actor and screenwriter Matthew Langford Perry was born on August 19, 1969, in Williamstown, Massachusetts. His actor father, John Bennett Perry, split up with his mother, Suzanne, while Matthew was still an infant. He went to live with his mother in Ottawa, Canada.
Growing up, Perry developed two passions—playing tennis and acting. He moved to Los Angeles around the age of 15 to live with his father.
Early Roles: 'Jimmy Reardon,' 'Second Chance,' 'Home Free'
Perry landed his first film part while still in high school, a supporting role opposite star River Phoenix in A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (1988). Unfortunately, the film came and went without much notice.
In September 1987, Perry starred in his first sitcom, Second Chance. The show had a fantastical premise with Kiel Martin starring as a man who dies and gets a chance to go back to mentor a younger version of himself (played by Perry). The show was later retooled, dropping Martin and focusing on the teenage misadventures of Perry’s character. Despite its new direction and new title, Boys Will Be Boys, the sitcom failed to attract enough of an audience to stay on the air.
After the series ended, Perry landed a series of small parts and guest appearances on such programs as Empty Nest and Growing Pains. He also had a supporting role on the short-lived Valerie Bertinelli comedic vehicle Sydney in 1990. This same year, Perry gave a strong performance as Desi Arnaz Jr. in the television biopic Call Me Anna, about the life of actress Patty Duke.
Three years later, Perry tried again for sitcom success with Home Free. He starred as a young reporter who lives at home with his mother and his sister and her two kids. After a few months, the series was cancelled. Perry was then cast in the pilot for LAX 2194, a futuristic look at an airport which never aired.
Perry soon found the perfect project with a leading role in a new sitcom about a group of young men and women in New York City. Debuting in September 1994, Friends became one of the most popular television sitcoms of all time.
Perry played the witty and sarcastic Chandler Bing, who shared an apartment with an aspiring actor named Joey, played by Matt LeBlanc, and was a longtime friend of Ross, played by David Schwimmer. Completing the cast, Courteney Cox played Monica, Ross' sister; Jennifer Aniston played Rachel, Monica's roommate and Ross’ love interest; and Lisa Kudrow played Phoebe, the kooky, offbeat friend to all.
The six actors proved to be a tight group both on- and off-screen. They banded together to renegotiate their contracts after Friends became a huge hit—a must-watch show for many Americans on Thursday nights.
During the later seasons of Friends, Chandler developed a romantic relationship with Monica. The characters eventually married, adopted twins and planned a move to the suburbs as the series came to an end in May 2004 after a decade on the air.
Films: 'Fools Rush In,' 'The Whole Nine Yards,' '17 Again'
During his years on Friends, Perry tackled several film projects. He starred in several comedies, including Fools Rush In (1997), with Salma Hayek, Almost Heroes (1998), with Chris Farley, and Three to Tango (1999), with Neve Campbell. While none of these films struck a chord with audiences or critics, Perry found some commercial success with The Whole Nine Yards (2000), with Bruce Willis and Amanda Peet. The film earned more than $57 million and spawned the 2004 sequel, The Whole Ten Yards.
Perry went on to star in the 2006 TV movie The Ron Clark Story, about a Southern teacher who moves to New York City to work with disadvantaged students. In 2007, he played a screenwriter who tries to cure his depression to win over the woman he loves in the independent film Numb. Perry then played the lead in another independent feature, Birds of America, which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. The following year, he had a role in the comedy 17 Again, with Zac Efron and Leslie Mann.
'Studio 60,' 'Go On,' 'The Odd Couple'
In 2006, Perry returned to series television for Aaron Sorkin's behind-the-scenes drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. He played Matt Albie, a talented writer who returns to the comedy show that made him famous. Bradley Whitford played his friend, collaborator and the show’s producer. While it earned many positive reviews, the show was cancelled in 2007 because of low ratings.
Taking another crack at sitcom success in 2011, Perry starred in the short-lived Mr. Sunshine. The following year, he returned to the small screen in Go On as a sports talk show host who joins an oddball support group following the death of his wife. The show survived a full season before being canceled.
Perry finally found another winner with the 2015 revival of The Odd Couple, playing the messy Oscar Madison to Thomas Lennon's fastidious Felix Unger. Despite mixed reviews, audiences took to the comedic repartee of the two stars through its three-season run.
During these years, Perry also enjoyed a recurring role on the legal drama The Good Wife, and reappeared for its spinoff, The Good Fight.
Addictions and Health Problems
As he enjoyed the immense popularity of Friends, Perry battled addictions to alcohol and prescription medications. He entered rehab for his addiction to the painkiller Vicodin in 1997 and completed a second rehab stint in 2001. Years later, Perry told People he "couldn't stop" using alcohol and pills during that period.
In the summer of 2018, it was reported that the actor had been rushed to the hospital with a gastrointestinal perforation (ruptured bowel).
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